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How To Protect Yourself In A Bar Fight

10 July 2008 20 Comments

We have all been there.  In a situation where words are flying and tempers are boiling.  Men like to prove their masculine and manliness sometimes in a way that should be avoided – in a fist fight.  Mind you, I’m not opposed to using violence to sort out matters between men, however, it should not be the first choice, especially if the argument is based on meaningless crap.

When you’re in a bar, pub or nightclub, the fist fight morphs into a bar fight – they’re not the same.  Fist fights outside or in an open area are quite different than bar fights found in very close quarters.  There are all kinds of variables in a bar fight that you simply don’t find in a fist fight.

When all diplomacy fails, or even worse, the fight has nothing to do with you but you’re in the blast range, follow these guidelines and you will have a chance to get out of there without too much damage or ending up in the back of a police car on the TV show Cops.

  • Take a few steps back.  Create some space so you have time to look for advantages.  There are all kinds of advantages you can choose from if you have the time.  This gives you a second to find a potential weakness or a way out.
  • Back to the wall.  Contrary to popular belief, your back to the wall can actually help.  No one will sneak up behind and bust a chair over your head.  But if you put your back to the wall, you better know your next move.
  • Make yourself small.  Small targets are harder to hit.  Crouch down a little and turn to the side narrowing your body.  Also, you want to ensure you don’t leave your groin exposed, so bend the legs and turn to the side.
  • Kick to the groin.  Give a short, quick kick or knee the guy about to swing.  If he’s left his stance wide open, which most beer guzzling novices will do, they will go down VERY quick.
  • Take off your glasses.  Easy one if you have the time – often you don’t.  Take these off if you can’t afford the cost to replace, but also, if broken on your face, will leave HUGE cuts.
  • Use gravity.  If you are bigger guy like me, you can use your body weight to bring a guy down to the floor.  One more thing, you might want to make sure you are on top.
  • Elbow to the head.  Elbows are terribly effective for close quarter encounters.  Many times, you simply don’t have room for a punch.  The elbow can be thrown from just about any position and if done correctly, can be way worse than a punch.
  • Throw short fast punches.  You don’t have a bunch of room while inside a bar to throw the haymaker.  Use fast, short bursts and once you throw a few, take a step back to ensure counters don’t catch you.
  • Uppercuts. Uppercuts.  Uppercuts.  These are very effective if the other guy wants to start grabbing at you.  He is trying to pull you in close and in doing so has his hands up high and stretched out.  Uppercuts can pack a huge wallop if done with conviction.
  • Head butt.  Don’t do this if you think you don’t have a hard head.  I do, and am usually too stupid to feel the pain anyhow.  Beware of the other guy throwing one as well.  If you get eye to eye, this is what a lot of drunk guys like to do since it is glorified on TV.
  • Grab a chair.  This puts distance between you and the other guy.  You are also sending a clear message you will take this thing to a whole other level if you have too.  Hopefully the other guy will simply back down and cooler heads can prevail.
  • Everything is a weapon.  Glasses, cans, ashtrays, jackets, mugs, shoes, whatever you can get your hands on can help you in a bar fight.  Everything can be used to your advantage.
  • Everything is a weapon.  Glasses, cans, ashtrays, jackets, mugs, shoes, whatever you can get your hands on can help you in a bar fight.  Everything can be used to the other guy’s advantage – so beware!!!
  • Be careful with the head.  You don’t want to end up in prison for killing someone, so don’t go for the kill to the head.  Try to disable ONLY, long enough to get out of there.  Only go after the head as the last resort.
  • Never break a bottle.  Using something to cut is the same as going after the head.  It always ends badly and usually never deters Mr. White Trash Alcoholic who wants to fight no matter what.  Again, just disable, disarm and get out.
  • Don’t escalate.  You want to bring the situation to a head as quickly as you can and bring it back down right away.  End it quickly and leave.  Escalation leads to really bad things.
  • Beware of others.  I know your budds have your back but try to leave them out of it.  Handle your own thing and hopefully the other guy’s fellas get the same memo.
  • Beware of the bouncers.  If security comes to break it up, don’t fight them too.  Tell them you want to leave and you want no trouble.  There are usually way too many muscle heads just waiting for something like this to happen.  You could probably hold your own, but that is a losing proposition.  Remember Daltun in Road House?  Guys like this really exist and love their jobs.
  • Do whatever the boys in blue tell you to do.  Once the police come, you do whatever they say.  You can NEVER fight with the cops.  They always have more friends than you do and you will lose!

I hope these were helpful.  I can’t remember the last time I found myself in this situation, but I am in enough bars and pubs to know it will happen again at some point.

Any good stories?  I would love to hear them in the Comments.

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  • Gerard said:

    Wow. You actually outlined every single thing there is to know. I especially like it when you use what you have to your advantage.

    But of course, if you know martial arts (i do), thats a big plus. Sometimes though it adds to ego xD

    Gerards last blog post..Band Game No Longer A Game

  • Hayden Tompkins said:

    “Back to the wall.”

    I have always felt that way, but the advice is usually never to put your back against the wall. I feel much better about my analysis now!

    Oh, and Gerard, sometimes it helps to add “crazy”. Just sayin. 🙂

    Hayden Tompkinss last blog post..How to Love Life: The Secret to Being Happy

  • Kevin said:

    @Gerard – martial arts is a good one. I think of Jackie Chan when I hear this. Obviously all choreographed, but he uses EVERYTHING he can get his hands on.

    @Hayden – I agree, back to the wall is usually bad. In close quarters though, you want to have everything in front of you if you can. Hate to have some yahoo pop me over the head with a bottle…

  • Kip de Moll said:

    I have to say in 50 years I’ve never been in a fight, not even close. I don’t feel any less a man, in fact, I think I’m more of one for it.

    Kip de Molls last blog post..New Growth

  • Kevin (author) said:

    @Kip – Amen to that. I have been in VERY few and have been some of the worst mistakes of my life.

  • Acai said:

    thanks for the article it was useful

  • Jim said:

    …don’t be too proud to bite when you’re in close…

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  • Mitch said:

    You have made a variety of valid points here. I have always avoided bar fights but when I was younger, as a successful amateur boxer I was often targeted by guys who had something to prove. It is far better if you don’t let it become a fistic confrontation but if it does, ending it quickly is best, and to that end, your suggestions vis a vis elbows and uppercuts are valid as either or both can end a fight quickly. (Below the belt, if necessary. Maybe not Queensberry rules, but effective.) I work part time as “security” — read “bouncer” for that — in a rather tough, slightly disreputable bar, and I find breaking up possible altercations easier than participating in them.

  • Tim said:

    Excellent article.
    I think my favourite move is by far the headbutt. It can be thrown out of nowhere and is the ultimate display of manliness.

    Bas Rutten, a prized UFC fighter, did a video on bar fights and how to win them. It’s pretty well done and shows some bloody sweet moves.

    Check it out.

  • david hochstetler said:

    i always wanted to know how to fight like ufc to protect my self from all my bullyes and there really fast and stron so and tips send me some at my email

  • phil said:

    You left out one other technique for the large, like you and I. Walk right into the guy grab his face with an open hand and push him backward gripping to direct him to the floor. When he starts to fall, be in the now. Flip him as he falls, so he hits the floor face down.

    Sit on him with his arms pinned at his sides with your knees. Then say “I do not really want to fight, are we finished now?”

    If he is not cooperating, slap the up ear sharp and quick, with an open hand and burst his eardrum. This should put an end to it. Only done this one time. Did not have to hit the ear, as he was only 155lbs, and I am 240. He was sober enough to see he was in a bad spot. The ear drum grows back if you do have to hit him. No blood on the knuckles, and no black eyes.

    Cheers, to getting along, and having fun without fighting, Phil aka adventureboy7

    Oh there is a variation if you are large and quick, as he falls onto his back you can give him a quick tap to the nose by releasing your grip and using a quick short jab. Once again no black eyes, maybe a blooded nose. With Aids and Hep C, the ear is the safer target. With this technique you let him go the floor and you stay on your feet, and as you suggest, take a few steps back towards the closest wall. Preferably one with a door in it.

  • Mekeji said:

    Truely I always carry a 72inch Katana on my back and a 15inch Tanto on me 24/7. In fact I was cornerd by a gang all I did was pull the katana out and slice one in the arm and I think it may have actualy came off and they ran but remember to clean the blood off the blade before sheathing it and do not use it on anyone that dose not deserve it. Also if you can go for the bigger one so they know you are serious that if they come near you that you will not hesitate to kill them if they insist on standing in your way.

  • jim said:

    i been in a few fights won some lost a lot B ut abar fight is very ruff one had one a week back put my back to wall but in case i fight close with no ne to dick it works for this time i jab to his nozes and hit lower body a lot we fell on floor not a cool places after a the fight he stay around looking for more

  • jeff said:

    hi all love to fight street or bar. I had a few bar fights won some lost a few. When in a fight i try to poke frist hit low ne to nuts woks for me. M y last bar fight 2 weeks back. I started it and finsh him off too. I use wall as my friend got side ways too poke him in noze,s hi hard low trip him when i could that works for me . I na bar fight the floor is not a good place to fight other jump in. I try to stay on my feet at all times. HIT AND poke push what ever you can do to win . don.t let them have any room to get you. make the frist move and last one to keep them on guessing game with you

  • Charley said:

    Great article. But what about the throat punch? A jab to the throat will but any off there game for a little while. Sure, it can be hard to reach, but as effective as a kick in the balls.

  • Will said:

    Got in a bit of a ruck last night (my first actual bar fight) and some of these pointers would have come in pretty handy if I’d have known them, not for winning the fight, but just to avoid injury. I’m happy to say I wasn’t the starter…another guy attacked me from behind, and we ended up in the middle of the dance floor throwing punches and grappling. It wasn’t going so bad until one of his mates came in behind, at the same moment that we got smothered by a bunch of other guys trying to break things up…realized I was pinned by the ‘helpers’ with a guy in front and a guy behind throwing punches, and with my arms trapped so I couldn’t do much back…managed to somehow drag the whole group back to the wall, got my back to it and got out of there, using a bar stool to fend of the first guy whilst keeping an eye out for the second.

    It was actually rather fun 🙂 A huge rush being in a close quarters battle for the first time, and managed to block or dodge all but six of the hits.

  • Jason Ngaaseke said:

    I have a small body, weigh about 60 kilos, but i go to the gym and i have a fair amount of strength.I try to avoid fights but somehow they jus come for you. I took some underground taekwondo classes in high xul and eventually i got really good. I’m quite confident with my ability to defend myself and i have been in quite a number of fights, i’v neva really lost.

    But guys what i’m really driving at is, if you are drunk you are simply defenseless. On Saturday i got a punch on my lip for the first time in my life without even seeing it coming, in fact i didnt even know i had been hit, luckily the cops were close by and they pulled out and took us to the police station.I had taken spirits and could hardly stand. but if i wasnt to drunk i’d have probly used some of my techniques.

    If someone is attacking you, immediately put on a guard by holding your hands in front of your face one in front of the other with your fists clamped, make backward movements,and step to the side if the guy attepmts to come heavily, use his momentum to push him of balance, if you do it well like me sometimes, he might actually fall, don’t follow him on the ground let him get up, he’ll get tired and lose focus. Then start hitting the open spots, his nose preferably. If you happen to duck his punches try to get him in the abbs using very short jabs. but i dont trust ducking i prefer to block.

    Make use of the opportunities that you get to grab sensitive areas, like the adam’s apple,pull the collar bone,its also a plus if you can get his arm joints or inner biceps.. When u start hitting try to make sure every move you make is a hit, use your elbow, knees, fists and head but make sure you are not the one whose being attacked. Its hard to accurately how but basically,i win by fighting defensively and avoiding being hit and attacking when i have the chance, neva be the one who is attacking unless you are sure your opponent has grown weak.

    And somehow being a good fighter sometimes comes naturally,like having quick reflexes, being flexible,being fast and Genes. My grandpa (dad’s father) was invincible. My dad is also not bad he knocked out this other really huge guy flat i was amazed.

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  • MartJones said:

    Where was this article when I was in a fist-fight with my bully?

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